My Garden This Weekend – 25/5/15

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I have spent the last two days in the garden and it has been lovely.   I did consider popping over the Malvern Hills to visit some gardens in Leominster this afternoon but by lunchtime I had really got stuck into planting up part of the woodland border so I stayed put and finished the job.  This year is the first year for ages that I remember being really content in the garden.  I don’t know whether it’s because I have been pottering in the evening so more of the jobs are being done or whether it’s because I have stopped charging around exhibiting at shows and reduced the number of groups I go to or whether it because I haven’t got a major project this year but I definitely feel more relaxed and I am enjoying gardening, instead of rushing around trying to achieve half a dozen things at a time.

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Yesterday was very overcast with the odd shower, not really conducive to weeding and pottering so instead I decided to face the horror that is the collection of seed trays and pots in the cold frames. I love sowing seeds and get very excited when they germinate but I’m not so good at looking after the seedlings and growing them on.  As I said to a friend recently if I succeeded with everything I germinated I would have a botanical garden by now so one of my objectives this year is to do better.  I have two 3 tier cold frames and one of them is home to an assortment of pots and trays in which seeds have been sown and then forgotten.  The majority of them date back to 2014 and some of them contain bulb seedlings which I wait until the second year to pot up.  So I spent probably 4 hours on Sunday pricking out and potting up.  There were still some pots with no sign of life so they have gone up the top of the garden to benefit from all weathers and then if they aren’t doing anything probably by the winter they will be chucked.  I was thrilled though to discover 3 pots of Arisaema seedlings, some Paeonia cambessedesii seedlings, as well as fritillaries and acer seedlings.

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Of course one pot of seedlings soon becomes one tray of seedlings etc so it was a real jigsaw getting everything back into the cold frames and greenhouse.  I did ditch a couple of pots that were obviously never going to germinate and some of the older seedlings are having to toughen up on the patio but in the end it all got put back together.

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Today, Bank Holiday Monday, I started with planting out some Petunia exserta seedlings grown from seed from Special Plants.  This led to me weeding the Big Border which led to me relocating an epimedium which then led to me considering the woodland border and the space where the Acer previously was.  The old rhododendron only had one flower this year and has become very leggy and one sided due to the shade produced by the vast willow.  Now the willow has been cut back and there is so much more sky I am trying to get the rhododendron to bush out better.  I pruned it back and this of course revealed some more planting area.  One thing led to another and by mid-afternoon I had added two small rhododendrons that I got for my birthday and a Vestia foetida which I bought at the garden visit on Saturday.  I also added a couple of epimediums – well it would be rude not to take advantage of more shady space wouldn’t it.

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It doesn’t look much in this photograph but I am really pleased.  I had planned to trim the box pyramid but I love the bright green new shoots too much so they have been left for another week.

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I even did some weeding in the front garden which I hate working in and for once I am really pleased with the driveway border.  The geums that went in last year are coming into their own although I would have preferred it if the orange geums could have been as strong as the red ones which seem to dominate the border at the moment.  I have a new fondness for orange geums as I think they add wonderful spots of highlight which really lift a border.

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As you can see the Achemilla mollis is about to flower so there will be a limey green haze along the side of the border which links to the marjoram on the other side of the border.  I just need to try to continue this style of planting along the end of the lawn where the soil gets much drier. As readers will know I have been considering digging up the front lawn but for now I have decided to be kind to myself and not give myself too much additional work so the lawn stays a little longer.

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As you can see its all looking very lush and full but it will be interesting to see how good it looks when the late spring Aquilegia and Alliums are over.

 

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22 Comments Add yours

  1. rusty duck says:

    A question about your three tier cold frame, because I am seriously considering getting one. Do the pots at the back of the middle and lower tiers get enough light? But maybe that’s an advantage if you are growing shade lovers?

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi jessica
      You are right the lower shelves don’t get as much light especially where it is located. My mother had it before me when it only had the top shelf, she had it on a sunny patio and used it for tomatoes. I use it for overwintering pots of seedlings and bulbs but use the top shelf for things that need good light.

  2. homeslip says:

    Knowing you Helen I expect there will be many interesting plants taking over the baton from the Alliums and Aquilegia. I like the way the red geum is weaving along the driveway border. It will look even better when the lime green alchemilla mollis flowers. I use the latter to hide the straggly slug-chewed foliage of Allium Christophii. I have Geum Mrs Bradshaw which I bought from Owl Cottage on the Isle of Wight. She flowers from May to November and I have her dotted around the garden but I will make a note to weave her through a border as you do. Your garden is just getting better and better.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Homeslip
      I think my red geum is Mrs Bradshaw, I received several as a plant trial last year.
      Thank you for your kind comments

  3. It is all looking lovely as the garden continues to bloom….and so many seedlings there. I need a cold frame.

    I have several shelves in a portable greenhouse that are filled with seedlings waiting to be planted out this weekend hopefully as the seedlings are hardened off outside a little each day….

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Donna
      Yes far more seedlings than I have home for but I have learnt to be ruthless when pricking out over the years and I will keep one or two fo myself and the rest will go to the plant sales of the groups I am involved with.

  4. Christina says:

    Dear Helen, maybe you are simply content with your garden because it is breathtakingly beautiful right now ;-)? I am really in awe of your photos! I love the white flowering and silver leafed plants in your last shot. They bring such a lightness and airiness into the picture, it is simply wonderful.
    Usually I am not keen on orange-red, but I have to say that in your front yard it totally works! It just adds the right amount of punch so that the garden is really interesting to look at. I am not following your blog long enough, so I don’t know about your issues with the front yard, but I think it is looking just beautiful.
    Thanks for inspiring me, I can’t wait to get out into my own yard, and start to tweak some things.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Christina
      I have sort of adopted a colour theme approach to the borders recently which I find is helping me bring some cohesion although of course you still have to take into account shade etc. The area in the last photo is meant to be primarily pinks and white with a hint of red to work with the flowers of the little cherry and the sorbus although of course the cherry’s flowers are long gone. In the front garden because it is so sunny I think it can take some strong colour and I have a large Grevillea Canberra Gem which has red flowers just out of the photograph which has dictated this.
      thank you for your kind words

      Helen

  5. Though we are having perfect weather here in North Carolina, I would have loved to have spent time helping you these past two day in your beautiful slice of heaven. All your love and work shows!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Stepheny
      You are kind, although I dont think I am a very good person to garden with – bit of a control freak!!!! 🙂

  6. I know what you mean about rushing around trying to achieve everything and forgetting to stop and enjoy the garden. I have strategically positioned a bench in my garden so that I can do just that, and at the end of a gardening session I make an effort to stop, sit down, rest, and look at the garden. Yours is looking so fresh and healthy, you have clearly worked very hard! Those irises in the top picture have certainly been taking their vitamins.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Joanna
      I know what you mean about positioning a bench. I was hopeless at sitting in the garden until I put the bench by the shed. We have another bench and chairs but they are on the patio which is low and near the house and because of the retaining wall seem to be separate from the garden. I frequently sit on the new bench and ponder and I have noticed my sons often sit there and they never really bothered being in the garden before

  7. Julie says:

    Helen, your garden looks really lovely, you have some gorgeous plant combinations. That feeling of contentment when working in a garden is hard to beat.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Julie
      Yes gardening is the best stress reliever around

  8. Yvone Ryan says:

    Wow – Your garden looks so abundant! so much more ‘south Island’ than up here in Auckland where there is not such a dramatic difference as we have more evergreens, tropical and sub tropical plants. I do have lots of pots of bulbs and seasonal colour tho’. Nice to see you ‘relax’ and weed, enjoy and not tearing around other peoples gardens!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Yvonne
      Whilst I do like tropical type planting I really do prefer the seasonal changes we have here in the UK, I think I would get bored if there wasnt much change from month to month

  9. Anna says:

    I think that your garden is looking better than ever this year Helen and so glad to read that you are content with it, It’s always a juggling act when you prick out and pot up – those innocent singular pots soon become an overwhelming legion. I’ve not heard of petunia exserta so off to find out what it is 🙂

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      The petunia is a species which Derry Watkins was raving about on GW few months back and so with no self control I wandered off to her website and ordered some and of course a few other bits!

  10. It seems to me that the phrase “one thing lead to another” sums up your weekend perfectly. Still, it’s good to hear that your gardening is enjoyable again!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Rachel
      Indeed as I had no firm plans I suppose it was inevitable that one thing would led to another which is always nice as you are then surprised at what you have achieved.

  11. Pauline says:

    I think your front garden is looking really good, lots of colour and texture there. I’m glad you are enjoying your garden, and using your bench, sitting and thinking are both part of the gardening process!

  12. Yvone Ryan says:

    Hi HELEN – again – Yes nice to see seasonal changes. I have found that gardening that suits the soil and climate seems to work best. what does well in certain climates are hopeless in others – eg my favourite peonies – just have to realize they don’t like the warmth up here so enjoy a big bunch for my November birthday! We struggle a lot with roses in Auckland also with black spot but I found some of David Austins rewarded me a lot. Others, even after given 2/3 years of being nbg you just have to dig them out! Tough love!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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